Glucksman Gallery

Grin & Bear It: Cruel humour in art & life

Lewis Glucksman Gallery

Grin & Bear It: cruel humour in art & life is an exhibition that explores the nature of this humour, especially in relation to the mockeries, disappointments and minor cruelties of everyday life.

Have you ever found yourself amused by someone else’s misfortune? Chuckled at the bad luck of others? The distresses of daily life seem to generate endless humorous moments for ourselves and others. Grin & Bear It: cruel humour in art & life is an exhibition that explores the nature of this humour, especially in relation to the mockeries, disappointments and minor cruelties of everyday life. Grin & Bear It considers how artists work with humour as a tool to examine social behaviours. Poking fun at life’s absurdities conceals the fine line that exists between laughter and sadness. Although there are recognisable jokes throughout the exhibition, it focuses specifically on what it is that makes us resort to humour in difficult situations. When faced with a cruel world, sometimes it’s best to just grin & bear it.

Grin & Bear It will explore practices associated with the Irish tradition of the ‘merry wake’ through the presentation of objects and first-hand accounts of wake games from folklore collections. Boisterous games often played when ‘waking’ a dead person, including practical jokes and rough-and-tumble, may appear curious today, but these accounts recall a time and place where even the corpse was not exempt from being used as part of a practical joke. Skellig Lists, on the other hand, were slanderous poems published and read aloud on Skellig night. much to the embarrassment and of course amusement of the local population. From old Irish satirical poems to the grotesque comedy of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal*, Ireland has a long practice of derisive wit and mocking humour, a tradition that is wonderfully illustrated in the chaotic scenes of a painting of Skellig Night by James Beale, which will form part of the exhibition.

Silly Me

The exhibition features contemporary works by artists employing video, photography and traditional media, which capture the humour in personal defeats and everyday disappointments. In his video work, Running for the Bus, David Sherry documents his pathetic attempts to catch a bus over sixty times while carrying heavy shopping bags; attempts that are both humorous and painfully futile. There is a different sort of cruel humour in Stella Capes’ The Clap Trap, a wooden sculpture designed to produce the sound of applause. With The Clap Trap no audience is required; just turn the handle for instant gratification! In replacing the sounds of human response with a crude mechanical simulation, Capes’ work puts pathos to the personal desire of popular reaction.

The Punchline

As part of the Grin & Bear It exhibition, the Glucksman is hosting a joke competition. The winning joke will be judged by a professional comedian, and will be displayed in large type on the Gallery’s exterior windows towards the end of the exhibition. All entries will be considered, but the joke must be in written form, original, and a maximum of 50 words. See for more details.

*Published in 1729, A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public proposed that Ireland's poor escape their poverty by selling their children as food to the rich.

For Further information and images please contact: Eileen Kearney, Retail and Communications Manager T. +353 21 490 1846 F. +353 21 490 1823 E. The Lewis Glucksman Gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm Late Night Thursday until 8pm Sunday 12 – 5pm

Category: Arts and Cultural Events: Glucksman Gallery
Time: 10am - 5pm, Thursday until 8pm, Closed Mondays
Location: Lewis Glucksman Gallery
Target Audience: All Welcome
Admission Price: € Free
Contact: Glucksman Gallery
021 4901844

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